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Posts tagged: wages

Washington’s minimum wage to remain highest of any state at $9.19 an hour

The minimum wage in Washington will go up to $9.19 an hour on Jan. 1, keeping the state ahead of all others and nearly $2 above the federal minimum wage of $7.25.

Idaho’s minimum wage will remain unchanged at $7.25 an hour, which is just over $15,000 a year for a full-time employee. It also falls within the federal definition of poverty for a two-person household.

The Washington wage, now $9.04, changes annually to keep pace with the rising cost of living. Voters in 1998 approved a ballot initiative that provides for the rate adjustments.

The wage bump will apply to an estimated 144,000 workers – many of them in retail, food service, hotel and health care jobs – providing them an extra $310 per year on average, according to the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute. Another 20,000 will see a raise as pay scales are adjusted upward, the Washington, D.C.-based group estimates.

Nine other states – Montana, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, Ohio, Missouri, Florida, Rhode Island and Vermont – also raise minimum wage rates on New Year’s Day.

Most of the new rates will remain under $8, including $7.80 in Montana. Vermont’s wage will increase to $8.60 and Oregon’s will go to $8.95 an hour.

Loss of low-pay jobs helps raise average wage in Washington

The average wage in Washington rose nearly 2 percent last year, largely because thousands of low-paying jobs disappeared during the recession.

Average annual pay increased 1.9 percent to $47,153 in 2009 – the smallest increase since 2004. The average weekly wage was $906 last year, the Employment Security Department said today.

Among other things, average wage is used to compute unemployment-insurance benefits for jobless workers. Because the average wage increased in 2009, the minimum and maximum unemployment benefits will go up for new unemployment claims beginning next month.

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